Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway rehiring workers thanks to $3 million loan

HERMON — Thanks to a recent $3 million loan, workers are being rehired by the bankrupt railway that owned the runaway train that devastated a Canadian town, killing 47 people, the railway’s court-appointed trustee said Monday.

Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway secured a $3 million loan from Camden National Bank to allow it to keep operations through the bankruptcy and sale process into 2014 and staff its trains with two-man crews, said attorney Robert Keach, whom a U.S. District Court judge appointed to oversee MMA operations during the Canadian and U.S. court proceedings.

The loan, which closed Friday, allows the railway to operate in Canada until Feb. 1, bolsters its potential sale price, and helps the railway’s 18 potential buyers get a better look at what one of them might get, Keach said in a statement.

“This financing will allow us to operate comfortably through a reasonable and thorough sale process,” Keach said Monday.

About 30 workers who were laid off when the railway declared bankruptcy have been or will be rehired. Half of them work on the American side of the border, Keach said. Stephen Matteo, senior vice president of commercial banking at Camden National, said he was pleased the bank could help MMA.

“Getting people back to work gives our bank a strong sense of community pride,” Matteo said in a statement. “Keeping the railway running safely is good for the people and economies of Maine, the Northeast and Eastern Canada.”

The unmanned train had several oil tankers and was parked for the night on a mail railway line outside Lac-Megantic, Quebec, when its brakes apparently gave and its tankers exploded when it derailed, destroying the center of the town.

The train’s sole operator, an engineer, had finished his shift in accordance with company procedures and gone to a nearby hotel. Company officials have suggested that the engineer failed to set enough brakes to guarantee safety. The cause of the accident remains under investigation. The disaster, one of the worst in Canadian and U.S. history, spurred safety reviews in both countries.

An increased bankruptcy sale price will likely generate more money for victims suing the railway for its role in the accident, Keach said.

Twelve of the 18 potential buyers have signed nondisclosure agreements, indicating a high level of interest in buying the railway, which owns more than 510 route miles of track serving Maine, Vermont, Quebec and New Brunswick. Before accident, MMA operated 15 trains daily with main line operations between Millinocket and Searsport, Maine, and between Brownville Junction, Maine and Montreal, Quebec.

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Comments

Canada's Irving oil corporation should NOT be an allowed buyer!

As it appears that several oil tankers that derailed, exploded and destroyed the center of a town near the Maine border were intentionally mis-labeled by Irving Oil, they should not be allowed to be among the purchasers of this railroad company.

If I am correct, it is likely that the Irvings orchestrated both the so-called railroad bankruptcy and the subsequent Camden National Bank loan bailout. And, Mr. Matteo's obviously Irving induced statement that "keeping the railway running safely is good for the people and economies of Maine, the Northeast and Eastern Canada" is just confirmation that the Irvings are in control ... or are attempting to be.

There is, relatively speaking, clearly no economic benefit for the people of Maine. Although, there is an economic benefit for the Irvings of Eastern Canada.

Yes. Mr. Matteo, running a safe railroad is good for the people of Maine, but that is not going to happen, based upon the horrors of Lac Megantic, if you have to trust the Irving oil company of Canada to accurately represent the danger of their high explosive oil cargos, is it?

Here is a message for you, sir Irvings.

Accept responsibility for misrepresenting the danger of the high explosive oil in those railcars, which you were responsible for ensuring was accurate, and not the railroad company.

Accept liability for the deadly impact from the expolosion and destruction caused by your mislabeled oil.

Finally, apologize to everyone who knows about and has been, even indirectly, impacted by this horrible story and your apparently illegal and ongoing schemes.

Shooting Indians a few miles from Maine's borders in New, Brunswick, Canada who are standing up to protect land and water for all of us from Irving mining and natural gas fracking. With-holding information from the People of Maine about the deadly and permanent impacts of your proposed open-pit mining scheme in Aroostook County. Then add to this the mislabeling of deadly, high explosive Irving oil.

Allowing the Irvings to buy into or own anything in Maine, especially a railroad, just doesn't add up anymore.

You are finally being properly measured.

You are finally going to be properly weighed.

As you have certainly been found to be wanting, sir Irvings.

Can you hear it? Can you hear the heretofore silent chorus from the People of this Great State of Maine, Mr. Irving?

I believe they're saying, "Hey. You. All of you Irvings. Get out of our State and stay out until you apologize for your part in killing those poor people resting just a few miles from our Maine border. Don't come back to Maine, don't do business in Maine and learn to behave both here, in Quebec, and in New Brunswick, even! You are not a good corporate citizen, by any measure."

In fact, it should be government policy that a full and proper investigation be conducted and that we now start taking a closer look at anything the Irvings may be transporting from now on through the State of Maine. Look for anything going to or coming from the Irvings on any railroad and especially under the tarps of the Irving trucking names of RST, Sunbury, Midland, Irving ...ahhh, crap, the list is too long to include here right now, but there are, as I understand, more than 180 Irving corporations operating or attempting to operate in or through our State.

Watch for further mislabeling by these schemers and make reports to the TSB as required.

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